UNC Basketball: Sweet Never Tasted So Good—Tar Heels Advance to Sweet 16

Essence DashtarayContributor IMarch 20, 2011

The North Carolina men have done it again. After Sunday’s matchup against No. 7 seed Washington, UNC advances to the Sweet 16 for a record 24th time and will take on Marquette in Newark next week.

Sunday’s game certainly didn’t come easy for the Tar Heels though. After many questionable calls with just a few minutes left to play in the second half, they came out on top, defeating Washington, 86-83.

On top of Tyler Zeller’s 23 points and Harrison Barnes's 22, Kendall Marshall put up 15 assists, setting a North Carolina record for an NCAA tournament game, beating out Kenny Smith’s 12 back in 1987. John Henson also recorded his eighth double-double and had 10 rebounds and 4 blocks. To me, that sounds like a team that’s ready to go far in the NCAA tourney.

Although this year is already looking up from last year’s team, which had 17 losses and instead competed in the NIT, North Carolina will have to bring huge momentum against Marquette next week to get the W, even though it currently leads Marquette 3-1 in the all-time series, but also hasn’t played it since 2001.

No. 11 Marquette will be coming off a big win, scoring the second biggest upset in the tournament so far, and will be ready to use that energy towards North Carolina. The Golden Eagles' 66-62 win over Syracuse put them in the tournament’s round of 16 for the first time in eight years, and if one things for sure, it’s that the Golden Eagles aren’t going to go down without a fight.

My pick for Friday’s game goes to UNC. The way March Madness is going so far though, it is apparent that anything can happen…